What is a Doula?
What does a doula do? How can a doula help me? Why should I hire one?
Why hire a doula for your birth?
Doulas provide many benefits to birthing families. Doulas give you emotional, physical, and informational support. They prioritize your autonomy in the birth process and beyond, helping you make choices in line with your goals and values. They support your relationships with the family members you may invite to your birth as well as those with your chosen care providers.
Doulas improve your experience of birth and many measurable medical outcomes as well. Physician and researcher Dr. John H. Kennell stated,
“If a doula was a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”
Doula support lowers cesarean risk dramatically, shortens labor, has a measurable positive impact on the bond between mother and baby, and also on the bond between the parents. Doulas reduce the need for medications and medical procedures (lowering the accompanying risks), including the use of forceps and vacuum extraction. Doulas even reduce the risk of postpartum mood disorder.
The benefit of having a doula extends to the hospital and the care provider. Doulas reduce a myriad of risks for mothers and babies. Studies also show conclusively doula support during birth leads to happier experiences and higher patient satisfaction scores.
Why is a Professional Doula a good investment?
You may be asking yourself why it’s good investment to hire a doula. You might think, “My partner / sister / mother / BFF is going to be with me. Isn’t that the same thing?”
Actually, no, it’s not. While the loving support of your family and friends, and the skilled attentions of a labor nurse if you’re birthing in a hospital or birth center are incredibly important, none of those people are qualified to do what a doula can do for you. Studies have shown conclusively that the benefits of having a doula are not duplicated by either family/friends or nursing staff.
What research tells us about hiring a doula:
Doulas help labor progress
Research shows that doula support can shorten the length of labor up to 25%
Doulas support can lead to less need for pharmaceuticals
Research shows that the use of narcotics in labor is reduced by 30% with doula support
Research shows that the use of synthetic oxytocin, such as pitocin, in labor is reduced by 40% with doula support
Research shows that the use of an epidural in labor is reduced by 60% with doula support
Doulas support reduces your chance of an instrumental delivery
Research shows that the use of forceps during delivery is reduced by 30% with doula support
Doulas support reduces your risk of Cesarean Birth
Research shows that doula support can lower the risk of cesarean birth by 26% to 80%, depending on the demographics of the study
In addition women attended by a doula are also:
Less likely to have babies with APGARs of 5 or lower
27% less likely to be dissatisfied with their births
Significantly more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
Significantly less likely to feel a loss of control in labor
Other long term benefits of working with a doula include:
Increased time spent with baby
Decreased postpartum depression
I’m on a budget and can’t afford typical doula fees for my area. What do I do?
One option is to work with a recently trained doula. These are doulas who have been through doula training and are working on gaining experience and building their practice. Fees may be flexible with doulas who are seeking to increase their experience. Click here for more information on recently trained doulas.
Will my insurance cover the cost of my doula?
Doulas can often provide an NPI number and may be payable through your HSA. While the number of insurance companies that reimburse for doula services are still small, they are growing. Reimbursement usually requires some persistence and submitting the claim several times. Discuss the documentation required with your doula in advance to make sure all requirements are met.